Malcolm Turnbull is Parliamentary Opposition spokesman on telecommunications and the National Broadband Network project, a position for which he is, within parliamentary ranks, uniquely qualified, having been chairman and principal shareholder of Ozemail, one of Australia’s major internet service providers an enterprise he sold in 1999 to MCI Worldcom.
Mr Turnbull graduated from Sydney University in 1977 with a double degree in law and arts and then was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to continue his studies at Oxford University’s Brasenose College in England from 1978 to 1980.
He established his own law firm in 1986 and then, with Nick Whitlam, son of former Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam, founded the investment banking firm of Whitlam Turnbull. He parted company with Whitlam Turnbull in 1990 and from then until 1997 was chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs Australia.
Throughout his business career he has maintained a strong interest in the internet and communications. He founded a software and investment company, FTR Holdings and through it took positions in a number of internet businesses including Webcentral and Chaos.com. He is Australia’s richest politician, the only one to make the BRW Rich 200 list with an estimated worth of $186 million.
He talks to Leon and Garry about the NBN, not disputing the value of a national broadband system but arguing that there are better and more economical ways to achieve the network Australia needs without setting up a government monopoly with all the risks of debt and pricing that could entail.